SCADA for post-warranty Vestas turbines

Integrating legacy and post-warranty sites into modern control room monitoring can be a challenge for renewable energy operators. Visualwind’s WindSync SCADA software is meeting this challenge by providing remote connectivity for real-time remote monitoring and control.

How do renewable energy companies integrate older sites into their control room monitoring?

In many cases, integration is limited; legacy sites are absent from fleet monitoring systems, remote fault clearance is cumbersome if even possible and SCADA data is accessed manually.

One of Visualwind’s main focusses in recent years has been helping renewable energy companies setup their post-warranty and legacy turbines with modern web-application SCADA. For site owners and operators the benefits are clear – all sites in one system, immediate knowledge of issues, remote fault clearance and setpoint configuration, automated fault analysis and so on.

Connecting legacy communications protocols with modern data technologies

For Visualwind, the challenge has been to connect legacy communications protocols with modern data technologies on a wide range of turbines types and sites. In some cases, the OEM is no longer in existence and the turbines are left with no remote visibility. In other cases, the turbines are no longer maintained by the OEM and the original SCADA system is no longer supported. In all cases, a new approach is needed.

At Visualwind, our expectation is that the need for SCADA solutions for legacy and post-warranty turbines will remain strong as fleets age and the number of refurbished turbines increases. Our hope is that in all cases, this growing fleet of mature wind turbines will be no different to their newer counterparts when it comes to data connectivity.

Vestas SCADA

One of the most common turbine types to use WindSync SCADA is older Vestas turbines. Visualwind recently supplied WindSync to one the UK’s older wind farms. Setting up WindSync at the site gave the operators real-time monitoring, remote fault clearance and SCADA data analysis.

Refurbished turbines are another common use case for WindSync SCADA. Refurbished Vestas turbines have been a popular choice for FIT projects and for owners of refurbished Vestas turbines, WindSync SCADA gives them and their O&M teams everything they need.

Read more about WindSync or contact us to find out more.

At-property shadow flicker monitoring

Shadow flicker is nothing new – flicker mitigation technology has been around for years. But issues persist and they are very difficult to investigate. Making use of advances in IoT technology Visualwind are helping eliminate flicker with at-property monitoring.

Shadow flicker – the effect caused inside a property when a wind turbine sits between it and the sun – is subject to planning guidance that requires wind farm developers to assess and mitigate shadow flicker impacts at properties in the vicinity of their developments.

During the development stage, software is used to identify the turbines that will cause flicker and the properties that will be subject to it. During the construction stage, wind turbines that are predicted to cause shadow flicker are typically fitted with mitigation technology that stops the turbine at certain times of year and day if the weather conditions are such that flicker would occur.

Doesn’t mitigation technology remove shadow flicker as an issue?

In theory, this use of software and mitigation technology means that flicker can be eliminated as an issue. However, in practice, complains about flicker continue to occur and wind turbines with mitigation technology continue to cause shadow flicker. The reasons for this are numerous and complex. Human error in setting up mitigation systems, inaccuracies in location data, system clocks becoming out of sync and tree shading of light sensors are just some of the causes.

The problem for wind farm operators is that when complaints do occur they are extremely difficult to investigate with residents asked to make a note of the times that they experience flicker. This is not only impractical for residents but is inadequate for understanding and resolving the issue.

The advantages of at-property flicker monitoring

Since 2016, Visualwind have been helping wind farm operators to investigate and resolve shadow flicker issues by recording the flicker that occurs at properties. The WindComply monitoring equipment records changes in light intensity and identifies the timings and intensity of shadow flicker as well as identifing which turbine is the cause of the shadow flicker.

Shadow flicker clearly shows up in the high resolution light intensity data

With the data from WindComply, wind operators are able to identity the causes of flicker and take steps to resolve the issues.

Making use of modern IoT technology for long term remote monitoring

For Visualwind, the development of a new monitoring solution for shadow flicker presented various challenges. The equipment would need to run throughout the year with just the power provided by a solar panel. Data would need to be sent via the mobile network regardless of location. And the device would need to be small and enough to sit in or adjacent to the garden of residential property for weeks or months at a time.

These challenges were address with the use of modern IoT technology. The product was built around a low energy industrial computer with extended temperature components. A multiband modem with roaming SIM enabled the transmission of data from any location.

The WindComply system has been in continuous use since 2016 with deployments across the UK and Northern Europe. In each case, the causes of flicker were identified and resolved ensuring that wind farms remained compliant with planning conditions and residents concerns were addressed.

Do get in touch with us to find out more.

Automating landowner payments

There are almost as many types of rent contracts as there are wind turbines. Making accurate and timely rent payments can be a huge headache for owners of large renewable energy portfolios. But is it possible to automate this process?

For owners of large renewable energy portfolios, calculating and processing rent payments is a headache. In addition to being one of the most time consuming and complex of all the admin tasks, it is one which must be done on time with little margin for error.

This combination of requirements (repeated, time-consuming and high-precision) makes rent payment ripe for automation. But the very factors that make rent payments complex for humans are what make it complex to automate. Each lease agreement is unique – there are common factors (base rents, royalties etc.) but then there are the details (advance and arrears payments, RPI and CPI reviews, Scottish quarters and English quarters, top-ups, landlord usage, and the list goes on.) Is it really possible or realistic to digitise all of the pertinent components of every lease agreement and automate the whole process?

Rent payment automation is a game changer

For the first customers of Visualwind’s WAM portfolio management software, rent payment automation was a key priority. And because WAM incorporated all the data streams needed for rent payment calculation (meter data, SCADA data, PPA/FIT/ROC rates and invoices), it was in theory possible to fully automate rent payment. We wanted WAM to be a serious time saver for owners of renewable energy fleets and so we took on the challenge of automating rent agreements. We knew it was not a small undertaking but the time and complexity of automating every lease in a large portfolio was considerably greater than we anticipated.

But for the customer it is a game changer. Each month instead of digging out data from multiple data sources and updating impenetrable spreadsheets, they now can view all upcoming payments in WAM. When they click into a payment they can see all the backing data and calculations clearly displayed and then it’s just a click of a button to send out remittance advice to their landowners and send payment details to their accounts team for payment.

Rent payment in WAM is a huge time saver for owners of large renewable energy portfolios

The great thing for us is that having having gone through the painful process of digitising hundreds of lease agreements, we’ve have most bases already covered. When a new customer begins using WAM, there is inevitably something new in their lease agreements that need handling in WAM but by and large the process of onboarding new lease agreements is very quick.

Do get in touch with us to find out more.